She had always wanted to ride a horse, but could have done without the snarling, frothing-at-the-mouth mob moaning death at her heels.
Maybe she should have given leaving Eden a second thought.
Maybe she should have given leaving Eden a second thought. “Nell!”
She heard the frantic shout carried over pounding hooves and the cacophony of pursuing Groaners. Gideon was astride his own horse beside her, anchored by his arms around its neck.
“This is dangerous!”
“This is dangerous!” Breath erratic and terror tickling her spine, she knew he was right.
“This is dangerous!” Breath erratic and terror tickling her spine, she knew he was right. “We can’t go back– The gate’s closed! This way!”
Their borrowed horses were untrained, but in being pursued, yielded control to those humans who could lead them away from a dreadful fate. ￼
Breaking from the last grove of trees, a monumental structure sprung into their sight in rapid approach: The Bridge of the Gods.
Its namesake came from the two towering stones on either side of its entrance, each shaped eerily like figures standing guard, daring some hapless soul to step over the threshold. Further ahead, she could see a solid metal barrier erected at least twenty feet high and as wide as the bridge itself.
Nell recalled the conversation with Lieutenant Leonine, Gideon’s mother: “To get to the Greater Unknown, you have to go over The Bridge of the Gods. It’s the only one still above sea level.”
“But I thought Eden destroyed all of the bridges to the outside after The Outbreak?” “They wanted an out, so they put up a barricade instead.
Nobody knows it’s a lie because they never go out of Eden anyways. There should still be a way through it.” “Is it safe?” “Hell no.”
Nell urged her horse quicker, kicking putrid hands that reached for its tail. It was then that their way out came into view.
“Gideon, a ladder!” A weak looking thing made of rope, it hung from the top of the barrier, enticing them.
A voice prodded her mind: ‘You can still turn back now,’ it insisted, ‘It’s not too late to save yourselves.’ She shoved the voice aside.
“Let the horses go! Come on!” Without stopping, she leapt from the horse, rolling out of the impact and springing into a mad dash towards the ladder.
In her peripheral she saw Gideon mirror her as both their horses turned and fled the other direction, half of the Groaners following them back into the trees. They reached the ladder in seconds, Nell jumping up first and Gideon scrambling after.
The Groaners violently yanked on the bottom rung, climbing over each other, scaling behind Gideon’s boots. “Ahh! I can’t believe you talked me into this!” “Climb faster!”
Nell’s fingers finally met cool metal, deftly lifting herself over the edge of the barrier. The other side did not have a ladder. That was outside of her expectations.
Before the first Groaner could reach the top, Nell pulled Gideon hard, the force hurling them towards the ground. At the same time, the feeble rope ladder frayed quickly at the weight of the Groaners, snapping and whipping off the top of the barrier.
There were garbled noises of surprise as they descended, slamming into each other into a heap on the other side. The two humans reacted quicker, barely landing on their feet and tumbling sideways on the concrete.
“That… Was… Terrifying,” Gideon gasped, sprawling back in relief. Nell nodded, standing. “No kidding,” she breathed, looking up to where they fell, “The ladders gone too.”
“That’s just awesome. This was a great idea Nell.” Gideon huffed to his feet. “We have to help whoever sent that signal, Gideon!”
“It could’ve been a fluke for all we know! There’s no way humans have survived out here all this time, it’s been a hundred years! And now,” he gestured to the barrier beside them, “WE’RE out here! How are we going to get back?!”
Nell grasped one of his shoulders, grey eyes as unyielding as the rubble around them. “We’ll find a way. We always do. But first, we find the source of the signal.”
Gideon’s mouth fell open, stunned. He closed it, shaking his head with a wry smile. Stepping back, he reached his right arm out, hand extended. “This is why you’re the Protector.”
Nell reached out in kind, their hands grasping each others’ forearms. “You know it.”
The first distress signal in one hundred years.
The first distress signal in one hundred years. How could Eden ignore it?
The first distress signal in one hundred years. How could Eden ignore it? How could she?
Unbeknownst to Nell and Gideon, they were not the only ones who heard the signal.
Unbeknownst to Nell and Gideon, they were not the only ones who heard the signal. A sinister intent oozed from deep within Greater Unknown.
Unbeknownst to Nell and Gideon, they were not the only ones who heard the signal. A sinister intent oozed from deep within Greater Unknown. The gears began to turn.
Unbeknownst to Nell and Gideon, they were not the only ones who heard the signal. A sinister intent oozed from deep within Greater Unknown. The gears began to turn. Something was starting.
To be continued.
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